CHAMPAIGN- It was in Michigan’s last game that the team came from 17 points down to knock off Indiana.
But there were clear differences between that matchup and Michigan’s matchup with Illinois on Thursday, with the biggest being that the Wolverines had the home advantage against the Hoosiers.
Assembly Hall in Champaign was hardly as friendly, especially as the Illini continued their onslaught early in the second half to extend their lead by as much as 26.
The other big difference between this game and the one against Indiana was Michigan’s shooting.
Last Sunday, the Wolverines shot 44 percent (12-of-27) from behind the arc to come back and shock the Hoosiers at Crisler Arena.
Last night, Michigan hit just 27 percent overall.
“I was very concerned about playing Michigan,” Illinois coach Theresa Grentz said. “I really, really was. I was impressed with how they came back against Indiana, and we as a team were definitely aware that (Michigan) had heart. I was impressed particularly with how they shot 3-pointers in that game (against Indiana).”
The 12 treys the Wolverines knocked down Sunday against the Hoosiers tied a program record.
However, against the Illini, Michigan hit just 1-of-20 from beyond the arc.
Ta’Shia Walker’s triple with 1:07 left in the ballgame gave the Wolverines their only 3-pointer of the game.
The better half: When Michigan looks back at game film from last night’s matchup with Illinois, there will definitely be some bright spots.
The Wolverines converted on five straight possessions to score 10 points on the Illini in the middle of the second half. Eight of those points came from freshman center Krista Phillips, who held a three-inch height advantage or more on each of Illinois’ players.
Point guard Minnfield said the team picked up confidence when Phillips started her scoring streak in the second period.
“Everybody was trying to pump each other up,” Minnfield said. “Every time down (the floor) it was ‘Pass to (Phillips), boom, to (Phillips).’ It got us fired up, because we could go to her every time.”
But regardless of how bright those few moments may have been, a loss is still a loss, and any Wolverine will tell you that.
“No matter how many good plays we made in the second half of that game, we couldn’t overcome the deficit we made for ourselves in the first half,” Phillips said.
Possible positives: Part of the reason the Wolverines were able to outscore the Illini in the second period was due to improved ballhandling. Michigan turned it over a season-low 11 times during the game. Last night’s matchup marked the second straight game the Wolverines have turned it over just three times in the second frame.
The Wolverines also held their own against the league’s best rebounding team, picking up 42 boards in comparison to Illinois’ 49.
Burnett was not hesitant to admit where the biggest difference came from.
“We held our turnovers to 11 and did a pretty solid job rebounding the ball against a really, really good rebounding team,” she said. “The biggest difference is clearly our shooting against theirs.”